Beagle owners - advice please

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9 years 7 months ago #33508 by welshie
Does anyone have a Beagle or a Beagle cross and can advise on their traits/behaviour? Is it possible to train our 18 month Beagle/Terrier cross from running off after every rabbit track she smells, or should we just give up now and know that will never happen!?? Currently once she is on a scent she is gone! Nose down and ears turned off - disappearing at an amazing speed, over the hills and far away. Comes back after a while (might be hours) - and has been 'lost and found' once. She is very obedient in every other way, but once on a scent that's it! She's just not remotely interested in treats if she has rabbits on her mind, or in her sights - and ignores the 'come here' command once nose on ground. Unfortunately (despite our best efforts) rabbits are like a plague here and even live under the deck of our house!
We're currently installing an electronic dog fence around the house yard so that will help a bit (hopefully!) - but it's not possible to do the whole farm. :(

Can we expect this behaviour will get better as she matures? Or are we looking at a lifetime of keeping her on a lead?[xx(]


welshie

Don't worry about what people think...they don't do it very often.

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9 years 7 months ago #444527 by Denneaux
If you have no luck here, you could contact your local hunt club, they seem to be able to call theirs off a scent. I used to think there was no curing my greyhound from taking off after game, but he learned in the end. Easier for me though cause he is too big to get through fences

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9 years 7 months ago #444535 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Beagle owners - advice please
One of my neighbours has started working with the Beagles at the airport. She came up to buy some sheep and we had a long beagle discussion.
The one she is working with she said will probably retire to their property, but they will need to build it a run as, despite being well trained, once its on a scent, thats it, there is no stopping it.
I dont know if there is any difference between ones trained to sniff and those like yours, I suspect not.
So, when its out of its run its to be on a lead and the rest of the time it will be in its run.

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9 years 7 months ago #444538 by 3scoremiles10
Yeah, you've got your work cut out. Beagles have been selectively bred for hundreds of generations to get on a scent and stay on it, and terriers are basically vermin exterminators, and both are notoriously hard headed and independent dogs.

I've had too many beagles to count, and a bunch of terriers too, and for the most part I'm sorry to say that when it comes to taking off after scent - and especially when it comes to taking off after RABBIT scent - you are fighting generations of genetics and hard-wired natural instincts. Not to say you will have to keep your dog leashed for ever, but you will always have to be aware that nine times out of ten, "chasing rabbit scent > you".

Your best approach is to try to override the beagle obsession with scent (very strong) with the beagle obsession with FOOD (because that changes the equation to "FOOD (+you) > chasing rabbit scent"). The trick is to get in early. Associate the recall command with food - and I admit that yes, I have had beagles who would ignore their own names but come to the command of "cookies!" - and learn to pick up the signals that your dog is getting on a scent.

Beagles usually make a snorting sort of whine when they have found a fun scent they are thinking about chasing, and their tails go from straight up and waving to a fast, quivering blur. When you see that, combined with casting about in small circles or back and forward, you need to get in quickly with the "OMG I HAVE FOOD HOW COOL IS THAT FOOD YUM COOKIES" dance. I have had some success in desperation situations with throwing handfuls of cookies onto the ground in the path of a maniacally tracking beagle (nose gets stuck on cookie, beagle cartwheels over own head trying to eat and run at the same time). Otherwise, once the beagle is on scent (and you'll know when he's committed, because THAT BAY), you just have to hope that the thing he's tracking will come back around in a circle. It's amazing the ground a beagle can cover when there's a good scent to follow.

I don't know how effective an electric fence set up will be with a beagle/terrier - I've known beagles who developed strange alternative ways of barking to get around the anti-bark collars people use - but I suppose it's worth a shot. The problem is that the zap the dog gets from crossing the invisible fence might make the animal bolt rather than stop, and once they're out, how do they get back in?

With the most persistent of my beagles, flexi leads and long lines were on the don't leave home without them list for a long time, and even into old age sometimes off-leash privileges got revoked when that tail started to hum!

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9 years 7 months ago #444542 by welshie
Thanks for the suggestions. Good idea about the local hunt club. We have one here, so can try them.

Like I said it seems she doesn't have the "yum,food" gene unfortunately. Food just doesn't doesn't exist when she's in the zone - and she doesn't even begin to register it. Unfortunately she makes no noise at all when about to take off. It's like "now you see me - now you don't!" No visible signals.:(

welshie

Don't worry about what people think...they don't do it very often.

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9 years 7 months ago #444553 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Beagle owners - advice please
I've had numerous harrier hound pups and young dogs from the local hunt club. Sorry, we don't really train them to come off a scent. If the pack starts after a rabbit, the whips (hound handlers), on horses, will chase after them and use hunting whips to turn the hounds. All huntsmen recognise that once a scent hound gets on a scent, it is very hard to stop them.

Here's what I have found:
Get in early, get them moving towards you, away from the scent. Use food as suggested by 3score10.
Train them to come to a whistle. Whistle seems to break through the hearing loss when the nose is on a scent better than yelling.
Give lots of excercise.
When you are excercising, keep moving! I found that mine would disappear when I took them out riding and needed to stop to open and shut a gate.
Never leave them unsupervised for even a minute or two. I'd always shut mine up, even when I popped inside for a pit stop. Other dogs would be fine sitting waiting for me - hounds would disappear after a yummy smell.

And, just to make you despair - One time when I picked a young hound up the huntsman told the kids that were with me that he would pay them $100 if they could teach the hound to sit reliably on command. He told me that he often makes that offer to kids and has never yet had to pay out. The kids worked really hard at it - use treats and voice and hand commands, day after day. Some days the hound would sit, sort of, sometimes, other days, it never looked like sitting.

As 3score10 says - they are bred to follow scent - and for very little else.

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9 years 7 months ago #444557 by Hawkspur
You could try diversion: teach them a game of following a specific scent, (as the airport ones are trained to) that they are unlikely to find by chance when in the field. Maybe something you carry when out and about, greasy engine rag? iodine bottle? and teach them to hunt for it on command, and really reward them for it.
If they follow a live game scent in the field, give them the command and hopefully they'll look for that scent rather than the live game one.

It would take good initial training and regular maintenance training to work though. It has to be more fun than the other scent.

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9 years 7 months ago #444566 by welshie
Anne I think that's why she's (slightly) better at NOT running off for hubby - he can whistle, and I can't. I do have a shepherd's whistle but can't get a peep out of it. Hopeless![xx(]

welshie

Don't worry about what people think...they don't do it very often.

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9 years 7 months ago #444636 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Beagle owners - advice please

welshie;444461 wrote: Anne I think that's why she's (slightly) better at NOT running off for hubby - he can whistle, and I can't. I do have a shepherd's whistle but can't get a peep out of it. Hopeless![xx(]

I use a shepherd's whistle too[;)]! But I can make a really good whistle with it. Actually, I can do a variety of whistles with it. I'm sure all the neighbours know when I am calling the dogs inside.

OTOH, I cannot whistle without it for the life of me.

Technique for using a shepherd's whistle: Make sure it is dry. Put it in your mouth with the little handle on the bottom, sticking out. Sort of purse your lips as if you are about to whistle normally. Press the middle of you tongue against the back fold of the whistle. Blow air out throught the whistle by sort of spitting it out.

As you get better you will be able to make longer whistles and vary the tone etc. Once I managed to make a noise - and remembered what the technique for that was, I was able to make variations within a few tries.

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9 years 7 months ago #444700 by welshie
Sitting here practising - but so far just lots of splatters all over the computer screen! [:0]

welshie

Don't worry about what people think...they don't do it very often.

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9 years 7 months ago #444763 by Anne
Replied by Anne on topic Beagle owners - advice please
Use that tongue[;)]. Purse those lips[:0]. Real short, sharp blows[8D][:0] :D .

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9 years 7 months ago #444771 by Hawkspur
Yip. The tongue position is critical for whistling.

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